Social Impact Businesses
Cheetah Development owns operating for-profit businesses that connect smallholder farmers to the agriculture value chain or provide products and services to smallholder farmers that improve their farm’s productivity and profitability.
A Cheetah Development Company
Pearl Foods organizes, finances, and markets the crops of smallholder farmer groups. Pearl Foods employees work directly with farmers in the business of planting, finance and harvest. The Pearl Foods business model is a "multi-sided platform" that serves two interdependent customers (smallholder farmers and agricultural commodity buyers) whose success lies in building large numbers of users (the network effect). The model works this way: (1) Increase farmer yields through scale appropriate crop input loans and improved agronomy. (2) Aggregate crops through farmer groups in volumes economical to market to food processors, distributors, and exporters. (3) Purchase crops of farmers groups and resell to food processors, distributors and exporters. (4) Pay farmers and retain a portion for Pearl Foods.
The immediate impact Pearl has on families is astounding:
• From $15 in savings to $200 – cash for medicine, education and housing
• Hunger is ended
• 5-10 fold production increases (300 to 2000+ kilos/acre for maize)
• Communities join in common efforts; neighbors join teams for accountability and shared training
• Harvest prices rise typically 50-100% because they are given direct access to buyers
A Cheetah Development Company
One of the greatest challenges of the African agriculture market is post-harvest crop loss. Smallholder farmers lose a large percentage of their crops after harvest due to lack of effective crop storage and preservation. Reservoir was created to offer products to solve this problem. Reservoir’s flagship product, the Solar Dryer, was designed specifically for the smallholder farmer as a commercial product with these features:
- It works where the farmer grows the food – in sunny or rainy conditions. Can process 3 – 8 tons / year.
- High efficiency, fast dehydration times. Simple design with no electrical components.
- Preserves maximum nutrition, flavor, and color because food is protected from direct sunlight.
- A competitive price point that can be financed through microfinance lending.
- From the first month, the farmer can improve their nutrition (by keeping food) and their income (by selling food).
- A payback period of 12 to 18 months.
- Manufactured to order in Africa.
- Distributed through NGO partners or incentivized local shopkeepers.
As the food dries, the natural acids and sugars are concentrated, resulting in safe food, with a shelf life of many months, rather than days or weeks. By losing the 75 to 95% of its weight that was water, the food is also much easier to store and transport.
WATCH how our solar dryers improve the lives of the small farmers: nutrition, income, and reduced harvest loss.
When our Reservoir solar dryer owners dry the food, we inspect it for quality and buy it from them, providing a source of income. We package it and sell it, to wholesalers and bulk buyers. The dried food has a 12 month shelf life, which helps break the annual feast-famine cycle, providing good nutrition year-round. The dried food can be used for cooking, but also as an ingredient for manufacturers of porridge, soup, animal feed, or cereals. Current products include dried sweet potatoes and sweet potato flour, dried bananas, dried tomatoes, greens, and onions, and we can add other ingredients as we find markets for them.
Businesses Preparing for Launch
In Africa, getting crops from the field to the nearest road often means miles on a single track, unpaved trail. Bicylces are a practical option for smallholder farmers, but conventional bikes don’t survive long under heavy loads and rough surfaces. The Kabisa Heavy Load Bicycle with a load capacity of 1,000 lbs can travel over the roughest trails. Kabisa bikes will be manufactured in Africa.
Business Concepts Under Development
- Contract combine / harvester business
- Micro-dairy business
- Micro-mechanization equipment business
- Soil testing for smallholder plots business
- Potato collection and distribution warehouse business
"I firmly believe that we can end poverty among Africa's smallholder farmers in a generation. The reason I cling to that belief is the story of one farmer Cheetah Development worked with and how he has transformed his own life."
-- Ray Menard, Cheetah Development